Ahh yes. The Altoids Tin Survival Kit. Such a cliche. There are literally hundreds of instructables on how to make an altoids tin survival kit. Yet I believe all of them lack one thing or the other which make them incomplete. I have been making these for the past 3 years and have changed the contents and added new things by using it and feeling what was required.
I have gone through most of the ibles and what i felt was that they focused more on camping. Granted that survival skills are tested most in camping but our everyday lives take place in the urban setting and we need some survival skills and supplies for getting out of a sticky situation. Urban survival is a lot different that surviving in a natural setting and therefore the tools required also vary.
Another thing which I felt lacking in most of the ibles was a decent and practical way to carry your kit once you have made it. I have devised a solution for that as well.
The EDC stands for every day carry and it suggests that the kit we are going to make will become part of our everyday carry items which most likely already include your wallet, smartphone, watch, glasses, car keys etc.
If you find my ible good, please vote for me.
Step 1: Expectations From a Survival Kit
Now when a person sets out to build a survival kit, he has certain expectations in mind.
1. First of all the kit must be small and compact. Something lightweight and low profile as any thing large will be difficult to carry and even if it has all the things, we will tend to just leave it at home or in the car.
2. It has the basic things such as safety pins or medicine. Things which we may need in our daily life but are unable to carry in out wallet or in our pocket. Some very basic first aid as well.
3. It should have the basics and cover different problems, not focusing on a single problem too much to consume all the space.
4. It should be easy to take stuff out from it and put back. The arrangement should be such that it gives relatively simple access to most of the items.
5. The most efficient use of space is done. Packing the items in such a way as to not waste any space. Wasted space is the worst thing that you can do.
6. An easy carry method. Something not consuming pocket space as the pockets are already too crowded. Some way which doesn't get in the way of your general movement.
7. It should not be much expensive as I am just a student and always find myself in a tight budget situation. So we will make selections keeping the cost in mind as well as the quality, utility and longevity.
These are all the factors we will keep in mind while making the Survival Kit.
Step 2: Case Selection
We have to be wise and economical in choosing the right case for our survival kit. Traditionally the Altoids tin serves as a perfect case. It has a decent size and it is strong enough. I also chose the Altoids tin.
There are other choices as well such as water proof pocket cases from amazon or wallmart. They are good options if you don't have access to an Altoids tin or if you want a better kit.
I personally chose Altoids since i had them laying around and the waterproof hard cases were not available. Also for our purposes, we don't expect to be going in a water body hence it is not required so why waste our weight, size and money on what we don't need.
Complete Case with Belt Strap ----> $20
Water Proof Hard Case -------------->$6
Simple Altoids Tin --------------------->$3
Pepper Mint Altoids ------------------->$3
Step 3: Components of the Kit
These are the things we will add in our kit. I will go over each of their importance and uses seperately in great detail so that you can fully understand their need.
1. Sewing Kit
2. First Aid Bandage + Alcohol Swabs
3. Match Sticks
4. Safety Pins
5. Micro Multi Tool
6. Micro Flash Light
9. Tissue Paper
10. Paper + Pencil
11. Nail Clippers
Step 4: Sewing Kit
Sewing kit is one of the most used part of my kit. So imagine you are at the workplace or at your high school/college and you somehow rip your clothing from somewhere. The situation can get pretty embarassing and you cant really get out of it. That is why it is imperitive to have a sewing kit. What you can do in case of an incident is rush to the rest room and stich out the rip easily and it will be good as new.
So you can get a small sewing kit like the ones they give during flights or in hotels but in the essence of being a maker, I went ahead and made my own. It didnt require much effort and it came with the awesome feeling that comes with doing it yourself.
So here is how you can get to build one yourself
- Get a small piece of hard chart paper or a very thin card board and cut it in a rectangle. Cut notches along the longer edge for as many colors you want. cut one small slit on each of the smaller edges
- Select colors from your main sewing kit. If you dont have one, just buy the reels as they are pretty inexpensive and you can replenish your kit easily. Recomended colors are black, white, red, green and yellow.
- Start by slipping one end in the slit and wrapt it around two notches as long as you feel neccesary and then tuck the other end in the other slit. Repeat for all five colors.
- Slip two small sized needles under the threads.
- Take two small white buttons and stick them using a small piece of tape.
- And you are done. Now just look at how small the size is and how many repairs it is capable of.
In my initial kit i used an entire reel of black thread but i realised it was too space consuming and unnecessary. Also there was a need for multiple colors as different repairs call for use of different colors.
Step 5: First Aid Bandage + Alcohol Swabs
Well sooner or later you are going to get into a situation where you might cut yourself or get a small scrape. Well in that case the first aid bandage is your best friend. This is pretty basic first aid and is part or every kit out there, but for good reason hence we will be adding it in our kit as well.
Quality always matters. Although you could make do with whatever local brand you have available but I would recommend to go with some high quality water proof bandages. Ones i have are of Tesco. They are pretty good with natural adhesive which sticks well and doesn't leave any sticky residue.
Alcohol swabs are also good thing to have. Best to disinfect wounds. And if you need to clean something, they will also come in handy. You don't need a lot of them. Two of them should do and any brand is fine. They are basically the same.
Step 6: Matches
Well matches are more a camping need and les important in the urban setting but you never know, they come in handy. For example there is a birthday in the office or at school and no one has match to light the candle. You can be the HERO in that case and save the day :P
I highly recomend to use strike anywhere matches as they are easy to use but since i couldnt aquire them, i went with standard matches. You need no more than 6 to 8 matches.
Step 7: Safety Pins
Urban sticky situations are often where you are in a hurry. You don't have time to spare. Now picture a situation where you have accidentally ripped a tear in your clothing and you need to fix it instantly. You don't have the time to sew it all up. So that is the best place tp use safety pins. They will get you running again instantly.
Sewing Pins come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It is important to have a few sizes. Take 10 pieces of the smallest size, 5 of the medium size and 2 large sized. Tie them together using another safety pin.
Step 8: Micro Multi Tool
A multi tool is one the most important part of your kit. It is very usefull to have a multi tool as it can house a number of useful implements in a small form factor. Having those tools seperately would be inefficient.
Things that we require in a multi tool and why:
- Scissors. A small pair of good, sharp, high quality scissors come in very handy. To cut thread while using the sewing cut or cutting tape. To cut something at the office where you cant find your scissors. They are very practical and a neccesary tool.
- Knife. A small and sharp knife is also very important. I can be used to cut some food stuff you want to eat, like an apple. It can also be very usefull to cut open some package or letter. All in all very usefull.
- Nail File. This is one of the less important tools but can be helful. If you need to file your nails down after cutting them. Although a nail clipper has a built in file but its mostly of low quality.
- Tweezer and Tooth Pick. Not so much useful but they seem to be in multi tools. The tooth pick can be useful if you have teeth that require picking after eating meat. I dont see much practical use to tweezers.
- Being small and compact so to fit in out altoids tin. Quality is also important as we dont want a tool failing on us during a situation.
There are few tools that covrer all these reuirements.
1. Leatherman Micra: It is an amazing little tool which has all the things we desire. It costs about $25 to $30 which is good considering the quality. The scissors are nice and long for effective cutting. Amazon Link
2. Victorinox Classic: This is the tool i own and it also is a fine tool. It is smaller in size hence its implements are much smaller but they still do the job. It is cheaper and costs about $10 to $15. I went with it only because of the cost. Otherwise Micra is the better option. Amazon Link
Step 9: Micro Flash Light
The flash light is also an important thing to have. Although nowadays our smartphones come equipped with a decent flashlight but in case you smartphone runs low on power. The flashlight can be very helpful.
Its uses are pretty obvious. In the night if you are going somewhere or if you car is busted and you cant see anything. The little flashlight may as well save your life. Making on the road repair in the night can be a pain as you cant see anything. This flashlight can help you. Although in my case i have a couple of flash lights in my car just in case of emergency but you never know when a bad situation might come down on you and you have to be prepared.
Now the flash light should be small but powerful. Capable of running a few hours without dimming. It also has to be cheap as anything too expensive is out of my budget.
There are many potential candidates.
1. Streamlight Nano. In my opinion this is the best one to have. It is small and bright. Although at $8 it is worth it. Amazon Link
2. Gerber Micro Torch. Also a fine candidate at $6 with different modes and the feeling that comes with Gerber BG products. Amazon Link
3. Energizer Micro Torch. This is also a good choice and one that I have. It was available so i bought it. It hasnt ever failed on me and it has a long battery life. Amazon Link
Step 10: Tape
Tape is also the most important thing you will need in an Urban snafu. May it be a small repair or some wiring problem in your car. It could be to pack something or securing a wound shut. The uses are endless.
Well i would want to have all kinds of tape in my kit but i had to choose so i chose the three i thought were most important.
1. Duct tape: This tape is a miracle worker. Its uses are abundant and if you watch mythbusters, you know what i am talking about. Due to its large volume i cant have a lot of it but its better than nothing. Amazon Link
2. Surgical Tape: This is a good tape for packing wounds. It is also good for paper stuff. It can be very useful in places where you need something soft. Amazon Link
3. Electrical Tape: The most important of all. I have the most length of this tape. It is sturdy and best for electrical stuff. Insulation of connections or joining things together. Amazon Link
So i don't think i need to convince you of tape. You already know life isn't complete without it. So we will just go ahead with it :P
Step 11: Medication
In our daily life, we are so busy that we cant afford to be down. Sickness is not acceptable. We have to function at our maximum all the time. To do that we need the help of medicine. We cant hope to accomplish everything and that too without help.
The most common of the medicine you need is plain old aspirin. It is basically a blood thinner and it helps to alleviate head ache. So for now we will just put that and rest for later.
Step 12: Tissue Paper
The most basic thing we require. Tissue paper. It may be a runny nose or something that spilled. It could be a blob of ketchup or cake. It all requires tissue paper. It could also be wet hands or spilled water. Tissue paper is the answer.
But there is a problem. It takes up a lot of volume and hence we cant store to much of it. I have a half way solution for that. We will try to add the most number of tissue papers that we can.
Trust me when i say they will be used up quickest and may need to be replenished daily. We will talk about that later. So go ahead and take some tissues out of that box and put them in you kit.
Step 13: Paper + Pencil
So picture a situation. You are on the job and you need to note something down quick. You look around but you cant find anything to write on or to write with. What do you do? Well the answer is staring right at you.
The answer is you put a pencil and piece of paper in your kit. It will be useful more often than you think. You can write important information or scribble any idea that pops in your head out of the blue. It could be anything.
Nothing fancy, just a simple pencil and a simple paper.I thought of putting in a sharpie but it was too wide for my idea. And you find out what idea i am referring to soon enough.
Step 14: Nail Clipper
Have you ever been in a situation where you have reached at the work place and you realize you have over grown nails. Or maybe just out of home somewhere and its bothering you. You are thinking what people might think of you. It has happened to me more than once and I decided I needed a solution.
So I decided to put a small nail clipper in my kit so that whenever I realize my nails are over grown, I can trim them down to my satisfaction.
I don't know how much of you would find this actually important but it is important for me. I recommend to buy a good quality clipper which has a built in file. It should be a small and compact one.
Step 15: Putting It Together
IMPORTANT STUFF RIGHT HERE!!!
So now that I have your attention I will begin. The placement of all your stuff is very important not only because it decides how efficiently you use a space but also how much ergonomic it is based on the importance of the things to placed. I have broken it down to steps so that you can easily follow them. Following are the steps.
1. Begin with taking the altoids tin and closing it shut. Then start wrapping PVC Electrical Tape below the beading of the top lid, all around the sides. It will protrude from below but don't worry about that. Keep wrapping until you have the thickness of the tape level with the beading of the lid. When that is done use a very sharp blade or cutter to cut off the protruding part from the bottom to make it flush.
2. Next is to form the bottom most layer. Take a A4 sheet of white paper and half it. Then fold the half to the required size. Place that at the bottom of the empty tin. Above that place the two alcohol swabs. Above that place the first aid bandages making sure its level.
3. On top of that place the sewing kit. Add two razor blades just for good measure. Above that place a single folded tissue paper.
4. The bottom layer is now done. Now the top layer is simple. Place the nail clipper, micro multi tool, micro flash light and pencil along the length of the tin.
5. For the pencil use an ordinary pencil and cut it short using a hack saw. Sharpen it using a pencil sharpener. Now what we will do is wrap the other two tapes around the tape. So wrap duct tape around the pencil until you have about 1 cm in thickness. Besides it wrap the surgical tape to the same thickness.
6. Now you will have some space on the sides. Place the medicines and the safety pins here. Cut the packaging of the medicine to the smallest possible size and each of it individually.
7. Now underneath the lid place four to 5 matches in the center and secure them with tape.
8. You are basically done. If you did everything right, the lid should close easily and with some room to spare. Now to keep our kit snug and without loose bits what we will do is use two more sheets of tissue paper. Fold them up and place them on the very top and close the lid. Don't worry if it doesn't completely close as our case will keep it packed.
Step 16: Pouch Building
Remember I was talking about the problem of carrying the kit. Well my solution is to build a Paracord Pouch for the altoids tin which fits fairly snug and has belt attachment capability so that you can attach it to your belt and be awesome :p
The build is simple for a Paracord Pro but even a novice will be able to handle it.
Following are the materials you will need to build it.
1. About 50ft of Paracord Amazon Link
2. Paracord Fid (Buy or Build)
3. A Knife
Well I am going to explain the build step by step. I apologize as I dont have step by step pictures. I built this a while ago and I don't have any paracord at hand to recreate it for you guys. But there some similar things on instructables. I will provide the links.
1. First take about 25 ft length of paracord and fold it in half. Now place it along the three edges of the altoids tin (two long and one short edge) to get an approximate of the length. Give about one inch extra and start to form the cobra knot from the open end towards the folded end. Weave until you have the length for the three sides.
2. Now to begin with the horizontal weave. Fix the paracord in the fid. For that you will need to melt the edge and round it a bit. Wrap the cobra length around the tin and start from the bottom to weave horizontally. Pass your fid though the cobra knot over loops. Work your way up to the top. Don't make it too tight as we can adjust it later. When on the top start to weave the other side from top to bottom. Cut the two ends with about 6 inches to spare.
3. Next comes the vertical weave. Same procedure goes. Start from one side of the shorter sides and actually weave your fid through the horizontal lines going up one and below the next. On the top pass your cord over the upper most horizontal cord. Do the for both side and cut the ends with 6 inches to spare.
4. Now place your tin inside and start to tighten all the cords. Don't tighten too much as it will be very hard to use but tighten it a fair bit as it will get loose over time and we don't want it to over loosen.
5. Next you need to add the belt attachment. For that you will use another cord and go through the cobra on the longer side about one or two knots from the center. On the other end pass it above the horizontal cord at the far most end. Dont weave it in between as that is where the belt will go. Run it four times and then slip it through the cobra on the same side you started. This needs to be a little loose to accommodate the belt.
6. Test the fits and belt attachment. Once all done you can use a hot knife to seal all the ends.
Now first I have to confess that the one i have is not my best work. I did it a while back and didn't have black color back then so went with what i had. So sorry for the crude build. I am sure you guys can make it much slicker.
Follow this amazing guide which is the one I followed. It is very helpful and one of the best paracord guides ever created.
For the fid you can buy one here or make one following this guide.
Step 17: Maintaining Your Kit
Once you are done with you kit, the problem arises that you have to replenish it. If you go smartly about it, it wont be an issue.
In my opinion you will only need to replenish tissue paper on a daily basis considering you use them.
At a certain of the week check your kit to make sure its full. Replenish medicines, bandages, tape as necessary
The less frequently used items such as the sewing kit or the paper. Matchsticks maybe need replenishing after a month or so.
Step 18: Concluding Remarks
Well this is about it. I really hope you guys find some of my tips and tricks useful in your daily life. I tried my level best to bring forward a new and atypical kit.
If you have any suggestion regarding the contents of my kit, please do comment below.
If you found my ible a good one, please vote for me. I really worked hard and I want the Leatherman Signal. In return I promise to bring you more and more creative stuff.
I am really busy with my SAT these days hence don't get time to brainstorm but once I am done, I will unleash the arsenal.